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Juventus 1-3 Barcelona: Juve finish with a loss, but also with their heads held high

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Going into the Champpions League final against Barcelona, I knew it was going to be tough.  And although I wanted to win it, it was equally important that if Juventus lost, they would walk away proud.  In the last few years there has been too many comments about Calciopoli, too many comments about match fixing, too many comments about catenaccio.  Those needed to be replaced by comments about an up-and-coming team, comments about good management, comments about good football, and comments about a bright future.

Now that it is all said and done, I am proud of Juventus and what they have accomplished.  Juventus lost to a formidable opponent, one that beat the champions of Italy, England, France, and Germany en route to winning the Champions League.  And despite their greatness, they certainly didn't appear to be miles ahead of this Juventus.

Juventus will not have the Champions League badge on their shirt next season, but they can rest assured that next time they take on Europe, they will be respected by any opposition they face.

MATCH SUMMARY

(Forgive me if the summary is short or if I missed key moments.  I generally write while I watch, but this game was too important, too nerve wracking to have pen and paper by my side.)

The first two minutes started well.  Juventus were pressing Barcelona very hard and forcing their defense to mistakes.  However, in the blink of an eye, Barca went up front in less than five minutes.  A quick play on the left hand of the pitch left Rakitic unmarked in the box to put Barca ahead.

Barca had more opportunities during the first half but Juventus also created some chances.  After the end of the first 45 minutes, there was a feeling that Juventus could score at least one more goal.

Juventus started the second half strong, and ten minutes into it they were rewarded with a goal.  Marchisio passed to Lichtsteiner with a beautiful back-hell who then setup Tevez to take a shot against Ter Stegen.  The rebound fell to Morata who made it 1-1.  In the words of Tre, now we had a game.  Juventus continued to press hard and a few chances of their own and at that point the game could go either way.  Unfortunately for anyone wearing black and white, the game went Barca's way against the run of play.  A somewhat similar play in Juventus' half meant Buffon gave away a rebound that Suarez finished with ease.

The drama will not end there.  A few minutes later Neymar scored the third of the night but was ruled out as a handball.  At that point I started to believe that Juventus had it in them to score a second goal but it wasn't to be.  In the end, after more than 95 minutes of play, Neymar scored from a counter attack to make it 1-3.  A scoreline that is probably too generous for the reigning European champions.

LE PAGELLE

Buffon 8.0 Man of the match for me.  In the first half he pulled off a save that would have made it 2-0 for Barcelona.  I hope he gets another stab at the big eared trophy.

Lichtsteiner 7.0 He was poor in the first half but grew a lot in the second half.  He was in part responsible for Juventus' equalizer.

Barzagli 7.0 He did well at the back and close Barca's players well.

Bonucci 7.0 Same as Barzagli.  One of the best defenders in the world at the moment.

Evra 7.0 Good defensively and offensively.  With some of his crosses, it makes you wonder what could have been if Llorente was substituted a little earlier in the match.

Marchisio 7.5 Dat back-heel.  He had a few chances from outside of the box.  Had one of them dipped a little sooner we could've had a different story.

Pirlo 7.0 From the comments in the previous thread I know many of you thought he was poor.  I on the other hand thought he did well.  Sure he lost some balls but he also had a few passes that could have opened up the game.  I really hope he stays one more year.

Pogba 6.0 I thought he was poor for what he has to offer.  With that being said, this is the biggest game of his career, and at 22 he is gaining much needed experience at the top level.

Vidal 6.5 His first half was too rushed.  It looked like he was there to hack players rather than tackle them.  He settled towards the end of the first half until he was substituted.

Tevez 6.5 He was instrumental for the goal but he tried to do too many things by himself.  A pass to one of his teammates towards the end of the match might have been enough to tie the match for the second time.  With that being said, had he scored on one of those chances I would have been giving him a much higher rating.

Morata 7.0 Don't know what to write about him.  He has scored a lot in Champions League but I would have liked to see more effort in defense.  Just like Pogba, this experience will help the young Spaniard to grow.

Allegri 7.0 The question was not if Juventus could stop Barca from scoring, but if Juventus could score as many goals as Barca, or more.  The team handled going 1-0 down well (better than Bayern and others) and were able to make it all level after the break.  Sure, Pirlo could have been benched in favour of Pereyra and that might have changed the game.  We'll never know.

CONCLUSION

Juventus showed that they are a serious up-and-coming team.  Although they lost, they worried Barca for many minutes in the second half.  There isn't much left to say, besides that this has been one great season and as Marotta said, this is a starting point to build upon.